New Royal Seals from the Reign of Hezekiah

Royal Seal from the Time of Hezekiah.
Photo: Mariana Saltzberger, IAA.











According to a news release issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority, several royal seal impressions were discovered in excavations at Umm Tuba, in the southern hills of Jerusalem. The following is an excerpt from the news release:

A large building that dates to the time of the First and Second Temples, in which there was an amazing wealth of inscriptions, was discovered in a salvage excavation conducted by Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem (between Zur Bahar and the Har Homa quarter), prior to construction work by a private contractor.

Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four “LMLK” type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom’s government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.

According to the press release, the name of the Arab village, “Umm Tuba” is derived from”Metofa”, which is Biblical “Netophah.”

Netophah was a town located near Bethlehem in the hill country of Judah. Two of David’s mighty men, Maharai and Heleb were Netophathites (2 Samuel 23:28-29). Netophah was also the place where some Levites lived (1 Chronicles 9:16). According to the list of the people who returned from Babylon, fifty-six Netophathites returned from captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26).

NOTE: For other articles on archaeology, archaeological discoveries, and how they relate to the Bible, read my post Can Archaeology Prove the Bible?.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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